Some Causes Of Dry Mouth May Surprise You

Posted on Nov 03, 2015 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS

As a periodontal specialist, I’m acutely aware of the factors that contribute to oral bacteria. Oral bacteria is the reason for gum disease, cavities, leading cause of tooth loss and an inflammatory trigger for health problems elsewhere in the body. Obviously, oral bacteria is no small issue.

One of the biggest factors when I see a new patient with gum disease is typically dry mouth. Even though poor oral hygiene is a major contributor when it comes to bacteria in the mouth, dry mouth is so common because it has many causes.

Saliva is necessary for a number of reasons. It helps to move food around in the mouth as you chew and delivers an acid that aids in the digestion. It also serves as a constant rinse that removes food particles from the mouth. This helps to keep bacteria under control.

When saliva flow is compromised, the reproduction of oral bacteria runs rampant. Some factors, such as smoking, alcohol, caffeine (coffee, colas, chocolate), and some medications are known to be drying to oral tissues.

When saliva flow is insufficient to overcome these agents, bacteria reproduce at an alarmingly rapid rate. Once saliva becomes unable to efficiently rinse these elements from the mouth, oral bacteria can quickly multiply. This is why you may feel a film on teeth before brushing at night. This film is a buildup of bacteria that has accumulated in just the short amount of time since you brushed that morning.

While some causes of dry mouth are obvious, others are not. Mouth breathing is one. Some illnesses or health conditions, such as snoring or sinus conditions, can lead to frequent mouth breathing.

People who have Sjogren’s Syndrome or are undergoing certain HIV or cancer treatments are more susceptible to dry mouth. And, with the aging process comes less oral moisture.

Obviously, good saliva flow is necessary to help in the prevention of gum disease, cavities and even tooth loss. It’s important to drink plenty of water during the day or use oral rinses that replenish moisture. Certain prescription types may be advised for individual needs. However, it is important that you are proactive when dry mouth becomes an ongoing or even temporary condition.

Consider this – if oral bacteria can form a sticky film of bacteria between brushing in the morning and at night, imagine the damage they are capable of without the continual cleansing action of saliva. As a Periodontist, I know this is a common cause for problems that can be expensive and time consuming to treat. And, with the right measures, we can help you prevent them.

Let’s work together to avoid the problems that come from dry mouth. If you feel your mouth is occasionally dry during the day or are aware of the factors that contribute to dry mouth, call us at 828-274-9440 to schedule an exam. Preventing problems in the first place is the best way to save both time and money!

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